‘Israel’s’ Rational Enemy: Hezbollah, An ’Army’ Whose Surprises Never End
By Staff | Haaretz
In a lengthy article for Haaretz, Amos Harel cited the outgoing commander of the 91st Galilee Division of the ‘Israeli’ military as saying: “As the division commander who lives the front here on a daily basis, I constantly assume that there could be surprises and that Hezbollah might make an unexpected move.”
Next week, Brig. Gen. Shlomi Binder will conclude his tour of duty in the occupied northern border sector. He has been serving in his post for two years and eight months.
Binder says the main change that has occurred on the border in recent years relates to the arrival of the Radwan Unit, Hezbollah’s elite force, and its deployment in southern Lebanon, after years in which they garnered experience in the Syrian war.
“They have tools they didn’t have in 2006, notably an attack plan and capability in our territory,” he says, adding that they have expanded the firepower aimed at our front and they have improved their defensive capability in the face of an ‘Israeli’ military’s maneuver.
One of the blatant signs of the transition from guerrilla status to an army is the development of broad offensive formations, and not only point-specific offense or defense, Binder explains. “That is not necessarily bad for us. The more of an army they become and create permanent patterns, the more they generate targets for attack by us.”
At the end of the last war, there was a clear inclination in the ‘Israeli’ military to magnify Hezbollah’s combat capabilities and especially the fighting spirit of its troops, Binder says: “They know how to work with an envelope of intelligence, firepower and other means, as they did during the fighting in Syria. Our principal threat reference for many years is Hezbollah. We are planning, training and thinking about that.”
Still, the ‘Israeli’ military finds it difficult to define for itself the essence of victory in a confrontation with an enemy that is not exactly an army. “In the first Lebanon war, in 1982, ‘Israeli’ forces reached Beirut, but withdrew in a despondent atmosphere, despite the fact that Yasser Arafat and PLO officials left. In 2006, against Hezbollah, they advanced only 10 to 15 kilometers and left Lebanon with the sense of a frustrating stalemate. That is a problem the high command continues to contemplate, but it’s clear that the tendency today is more to degrade the enemy’s assets than to seize territory and hold it for the long term.”
The goal, Binder says, will be “to finish when Hezbollah has sustained a mortal blow. We will try to reduce significantly their arsenal of all types, to strike at commanders and fighters. The hope is that it will lead to deterrence of many years.”
“Hezbollah,” the outgoing general says, “has a great deal of advanced weaponry. It won’t be possible to portray them as an impoverished army that is just taking a beating.”
For years, he continues, ‘Israel’ made a mistake by describing its enemies not only as extremists motivated by ideological and religious hate for ‘Israel’, but also as irrational. That approach, regarding Hezbollah, and in the past two years has been voiced quite a bit even with regard to decisions made by Hamas’ leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar.
Binder says that Hezbollah Secretary General, His Eminence Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah “is rational, but not necessarily with our rationality. Is he sane and judicious in making his decisions? In my opinion, yes. The question is whether that leads to expected decisions from our point of view – and the answer is: not always. I have a certain cognitive difficulty in trying to understand him: I am an ‘Israeli’, not a Lebanese Shiite.”